Portugal's second biggest city has had a huge transformation of late and beats its big sister Lisbon because it has beaches, an eternal favourite for the kids. There is lots to see and do and plenty of outdoor experiences and with it being a low-cost airline hub, why have you not been yet? Prices are in Euros (approx 1USD to 0.8 Euros).
Porto has monuments, churches and old cobbled streets galore and it has recently been voted as the best city in Europe to visit. Learn about Port wine and visit the bookshop that inspired Harry Potter and Hogwarts!
1. Sé Cathedral
Situated on one of the highest points of Porto sits the Sé Cathedral overlooking the city. One of Porto's oldest monuments, the cathedral still functions as a place of worship and has beautiful baroque style architecture. Visiting inside takes you back in time as the building is immaculately kept and has been beautifully renovated.
2. Clérigos Tower
The tallest tower of its kind in Portugal, the Clérigos tower is 76 metres tall and allows you to have a 360º view of the city. There are 225 steps so smaller children may have a hard time climbing and it is steep! Tickets start at €5 with children under the age of 10 going in free. Check out the night tickets too for a different experience.
3. World of Discoveries
This new museum allows you to learn and understand more about the Portuguese Discoveries that propelled Portugal into the history books. Here, children can learn through very interactive ways (there is a boat you actually board to travel through the museum and staff are usually dressed up in period costumes) how and why the discoverers set sail. Prices start at €8 for children under 12's and €14 for adults but buy them online with a discount.
4. Livraria Lello
This bookstore is over 100 years old and inspired JK Rowling's Hogwarts. Although this bookstore used to be free to go in, the numbers of tourists visiting it has risen so dramatically that they have had to implement a ticket system to keep the ambience within the bookstore still relaxed for book buyers. The price for the ticket is €4 but you can put this amount towards the purchase of a book should you wish. It is a must see when visiting Porto.
5. Pavilhão de Água e Parque da Cidade
We are cheating here (a little) as the City Park is a fabulous place to visit - and free - and the Water Pavillion is within the City Park. The City Park has over 80 hectares of green to enjoy and you can often see healthy conscious people jogging or biking here. At the end of the park is the beach so you can easily spend a whole day checking it out and finishing with a dip in the ocean. The Water Pavillion is an educational place where you can learn about water, how to keep water clean and unpolluted and they host regular educational activities.
6. Parque de Serralves
This is another double whammy, actually it's more like a quintuple whammy as it is a beautiful 18 hectare park, an art museum, a restaurant, an art deco house and an educational resource all rolled into one! Tickets are €10 (under 12s go free) to visit the park, the art deco house and the museum. Workshops for kids are often held at the weekend or during the school holidays and entrance is free until 1pm on Sundays. Check out the enormous trowel!
7. Museu do Futebol Clube do Porto
For the sport enthusiast in your family a trip to see the Dragão Stadium and the FCPorto museum has to be on the list. The museum is extremely interactive and travels through time detailing how the club has reached its present day glory. Admission is €10 for under 12s and €15 for adults if you want to check out the stadium and the museum.
8. Parque Biológico de Gaia
Again, cheating! Gaia is Porto's next door neighbour but it would be rude not to mention the existence of this amazing park and its wildlife. They have night time activities such as checking out the fireflies (seasonal activity) and star gazing but you can wander around this park and see nature at its best with habitats for animals such as badgers and foxes and a variety of birds.
9. River Cruise
Make sure you find time to take one of the many offers of a river cruise. You will be able to see all of the bridges that cross the famous River Douro from Porto to Gaia. One of them, Ponte D. Maria, was designed by Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower fame. From the cruise, you will see the Port wine cellars on the Gaia side of the river.
10. Praias do Porto
Last but by no means least, make sure you visit some of the beaches of Porto. If it is off peak season and the cold sea doesn't look tempting, then you can walk on the promenade for what seems like, forever! There are playgrounds dotted around on the promenade as well as cafes to refuel!
There are many reasons to visit Porto and some have not made it onto this list! Check out the centre of the city, ride a tram, fly in a helicopter, visit the Cafe Majestic (but be prepared to leave a hefty amount there), visit the Botanical Gardens or Parque de Cristal for cracking views, check out Claus the soap making company or Arcadia the chocolate making company or simply ride on the metro and don't forget to eat anywhere and everywhere!